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Mission and History

Our mission is to facilitate international collaboration in the collection and sharing of knowledge on plants and animals and their environments for botanical gardens, zoos, aquariums, and related conservation organizations to serve institutional, regional, and global plant and animal management and conservation goals.”

Species360’s History


1974: On a proposal from Prof. Ulysses Seal, 55 Zoos in Europe and the United States launch what is to become the International Species Inventory System (ISIS). The American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV), Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA-US), and other foundations and governmental departments provide funding and the International Species Inventory System is born.

1975: 55 members begin keeping paper records using standardized carbon-copy forms. One copy is sent to be key-punched at the Minnesota Zoo and loaded onto a State of Minnesota mainframe computer; reports are returned on paper printouts.

1984: Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Brookfield Zoo and the US National Zoo join the Institute of Museum and Library Science (IMLS) as sponsors for ISIS development of a PC-based institutional records-keeping system.

1985-89: ISIS releases its first PC-based versions of Animal Records Keeping System (ARKS), Medical Animal Records Keeping System (MedARKS) and Single Population Animal Records Keeping Software (SPARKS).

1989: ISIS is incorporated as an independent, member-governed, non-profit, non-governmental entity under an international Board of Trustees, and is renamed International Species Information System.

2011 – 2015: ISIS rolls out the first web-based Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), then releases a new and improved user interface and database for ZIMS and launches the web-based ZIMS for Medical. Also released is a Spanish-language version of ZIMS.

2016: ISIS is rebranded as Species360. Species360 welcomes its 1,000th member, including zoos, aquariums, conservation agencies, educational institutions and regional associations in 90 countries on six continents.

2017: Species360 rolls out ZIMS for Studbooks, a web-based solution for helping collaborative breeding program managers and individual institutions to ensure the longevity, diversity, and welfare of key populations of species.

2018: Species360 forms the Conservation Science Alliance to provide conservation agencies, zoos, and aquariums with new research applying modern data analytics to global species data in ZIMS and other sources such as the IUCN Red List.

2019: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) publishes the first Species Knowledge Index developed by a team of researchers worldwide, including population dynamics and data analytics experts from the Species360 Conservation Science Alliance.

2020: Species360 releases a French-language version of ZIMS. In the first two weeks after releasing the application, more than 40 Species360 member institutions worldwide begin using ZIMS in French.

2021: Species360 releases ZIMS for Medical – Sample Storage to manage the immense amount of data associated with biological samples stored at zoos and aquariums worldwide. Sample Storage reflects input from veterinary specialists at zoos and aquariums around the world; chief among the collaborators is Biobank leaders at the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). ZIMS for Medical – Sample Storage becomes a key component of the EAZA Biobank, a resource designed to help secure, store, and manage at least one sample for every species residing in zoos and aquariums throughout Europe.

2022: Species360 expands its mission to include plants, with the addition of plant record-keeping platform Hortis. In December 2022, the team at Botanical Software joined Species360 as the newly formed Botanical Solutions department.

2023: Species360 begins exciting development work on modernizing ZIMS, and unveils new logos for ZIMS and Hortis.

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